Monday, February 15, 2010

Quest for Acceptance: We are Flawed!

We are flawed! While that doesn't seem like a revelation, it really is. Stop and think about it. How many times have we been disapointed in ourselves for not succeeding or for something not being perfect or perhaps for not doing as good a job as someone else? How many times have we judged others for not doing a good job at something? We gauge ourselves on a standard that would require perfection to achieve and that is just not possible.

While cleaning out my closets, I discovered just how much of a perfectionist I am. I have dozens of projects half-finished because they were too flawed for me to even spend the time finishing them. I would toss it aside with the others in hopes of correcting the flaws at a later date or even starting over and making the next project flawless. Thus my flaw is my perfectionism.

But, my desire for perfection doesn't stop with craft projects but extends to motherhood. I expected so much of myself before becoming a mother. I had a long list of things I was going to do and a tall pile of books to teach me how to do them. None of those ideas worked, and no amount of books would provide me with a child who slept or who would stop crying from the pain of acid reflux.

My quest to be the perfect mom was flawed from the beginning, and it just went downhill from there. My other pre-baby idea was that all babies were born perfect. That's what we always hear. "He's perfect. Ten toes, ten fingers." "She's perfect and beautiful." My baby had a swollen eye that was completely closed. He was slightly jaundiced and not perfect.

But, before you chastise, acceptance begins with the realization that we are not perfect, not even as infants. We are not perfect physically or spiritually. We are born with the blood of our fathers polluted with the sins of Adam and Eve. Our bodies are just as flawed. If we weren't flawed, we certainly wouldn't need the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ or the help of a gracious God.

In my pursuit of perfection, I certainly would not have found any need to call on God for help if I had had a perfectly healthy child, who slept through the night, and did not have acid reflux. I certainly would not have called on God for provision if we had not found ourselves in a situation in which we could not provide for our son and his medical needs.

I've received some backlash for focusing on my son's health issues and speech delays, but in truth, I am realizing that by focusing on his imperfections, I am seeing God working in miraculous ways. By accepting that life is not perfect, that my son is not perfect, that I am not perfect, and that our situation is not perfect, I am admitting that our life is a perfect place for God to show his handiwork.

Thus, I am, as a non-professional, suggesting that the first step to acceptance is accepting that we are all flawed, physically and spiritually, and that we need a God that is greater than our flaws and more gracious than we deserve. But, most importantly, because of our flaws and imperfections, we must rely on God to get us through, to provide for us, and to give us the strength in the tough times.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Operation: Clean Up Your Messy House

The unpublicized quest to clean my house of all the clutter actually began last year. Oprah had a challenge where you could sign-up for the challenge and her cleaning guru would send you monthly instructions with the goal of having a clutter free home in 5-6 months. It sounded like a good idea, so I signed up for the monthly newsletters. But, low and behold, reading newsletters doesn't get a house clean.

I had every intention of cleaning my house and ridding us of all the clutter but about the same time, we had two car accidents in two days and my son was diagnosed with 7q11.23 duplication. My focus turned to him and to putting our lives back together after so much chaos knocked all our socks off.

This January, I took up the cause again! Actually, it was the last week of December. I made a plan to clean one room and one closet each week. I stuck to it, and am proud to say that as of Monday, I have accomplished the task of cleaning up my messy house. The clutter is still here, as I have dreams of a garage sale once all the snow melts and the weather warms. I would love a little extra cash from all that clutter. It would sure seem like it was all worth keeping.

While I am overjoyed to have clean closets and a clutter-free house, I found myself dealing with a lot of emotional baggage while discarding so much junk. I was astonished by the shear magnitude of stuff that we had collected, hung on-to, and refused to simply let go of. Letting go became the theme for the 6 weeks that it took to clean everything. There's a reason for all that junk. There's a reason for hanging onto the junk. But to see the reason, one must be willing to look beyond the mess into one's own heart and mind. And, that's exactly what I did.

I discovered a great deal about myself while looking at items that had a purpose but were never used for that purpose. I don't want to unload what I discovered, but know that I know far more about myself after having cleaned out my closets than I ever knew before.

I would challenge anyone surrounded by clutter whether it be at your office, in your closet or somewhere in your house to clean up your mess, and in the process, examine why the clutter exists, and what you can learn about yourself by clearing it out. It is an incredible process, and while painful in the moment, well worth it in the end.

Book Review: Mom's Bible with Notes by Bobbie Wolgemuth

I haven't had time to read much lately, but have been determined to stick to my Read Through the Bible challenge. So what little reading I have done has been Bible reading. Which is why when Thomas Nelson had a new Bible up for review I jumped on the opportunity.

The Mom's Bible: God's Wisdom for Mothers with Notes by Bobbie Wolgemuth is written in the New Century Version. I had never heard of NCV until I saw this Bible. I am by no means a scholar of translations but did some research and learned that the NCV began as a Bible written for the deaf, leaving out the common theological terms that they would not have heard or be familiar and simplifying the text to make it easier to understand. The NCV is not the same version, but the text is nevertheless quite simplified and reads a bit like a Reader's Digest version of the Bible. Theological terms that we have come to understand are replaced with simpler words. For instance, covenant is replaced with agreement. Tabernacle is replaced with tent of meeting. In my opinion, these changes take away from the meaning of the text.

With that said, I would like to say that the Mom's Bible is a great Bible for quick reads. If you need a moment to remind yourself that someone is in your corner while all the kids are in their corner, then this Bible is for you. This Bible is fast food for the Biblically hungry. I was able to read three chapters from Numbers while my son watched Sesame Street. Fast food or not, I felt much better after having spent some time reading the Bible. This Bible is not the best for in-depth studies, but for those quick reads while eating breakfast, this one will do the job.

The notes are written by Bobbie Wolgemuth and four other busy moms. I found the notes to be very insightful and thought provoking. They are not long and also make for a quick read. They are a bit like mini-studies over a couple of chapters.

The Bible itself is a great mom-tool as well. It is hard-backed with thicker pages than the normal Bible. This is good because, as I found out from experience, blueberry muffin wipes off fairly easily. My NIV study Bible would have immediately been ruined with muffin soaking through multiple onion-skin pages. The text is a bit small, but this allows the book itself to be thinner which in turn allows a person, even with small hands, to hold the book with one hand while spooning oatmeal with the other.

I would give this book 3 stars only because of my dislike for changing such important words in the text. As a fast food source, I would give it 4 stars. Every mom needs a source of fast food nearby for those occasions when gourmet just won't do.